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Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to bring senior citizens to community events? Or provide a mode of transportation for those who need a ride to the grocery? Or to bring visitors from General Butler State Resort Park into the heart of downtown Carrollton?
According to the Carroll County trolley committee, the way to do all that and more is to purchase a trolley.
Chairman Deborah Garrett presented the idea to Carrollton City Council on Monday, June 10.
Garrett is involved in multiple volunteer organizations, including Carrollton Main Street Program and Friends of Butler. She told council that people talk about how it would be nice if people came to downtown Carrollton, and her suggestion was a trolley. Then, after volunteering at General Butler State Resort Park’s main entrance, she realized just how many visitors are actually coming to Carroll County already, but are only seeing the park.
“It’s amazing the number of people who come to visit Carroll County each year,” she said. “It’s absolutely amazing. Thousands.”
She believes that if Carroll County owned a trolley, “(we could) connect the dots” and make it one piece, rather than separate sections.
So, the trolley committee was formed and began meeting in May 2012. Five members of the trolley committee took a field trip to Radcliff, Ky., in April to talk to Mayor J.J. Duvall about their trolley. Being a small town like Carrollton, the committee believed it would provide a good comparison, Garrett said.
With its proximity to Fort Knox, Radcliff allows base officials to use the trolley to take visiting dignitaries around town, said Mayor Gene McMurry, who also went on the trip. They also use it to pick up senior citizens for events in town or to take them to the shopping center or to the drugstore.
“When you saw what a trolley did for their community, you were just on Cloud Nine leaving there,” Garrett said.
Carrollton could provide similar services and have designated trolley stops throughout town, Garrett said. It would provide citizens without transportation the freedom of access to amenities and activities, as well as entice visitors to come. It also would make Carrollton more inviting to families, she said.
“It was just a small amount of money that made such a big difference in the community,” Garrett said.
Garrett gave council information on trolleys for sale and said cities can bid on trolleys on the government surplus website GovDeals.com. Radcliff’s trolley originally cost $86,000, but bought it for $22,000. “There are used trolley outs there for bid,” she said.
McMurry said the trolley would have heating and air conditioning, as well as a PA system and be handicap accessible.
Radcliff filled the trolley with diesel at Christmas and had spent $264 in diesel by April, Garrett said. It is driven by volunteers, some who are retired school bus drivers. The number of days in operation varies by community and would be something we could test and see what works best for Carroll County, she said.
McMurry said he has talked to Kroger and Walmart and they both said they would be willing to put money toward the project.
“It’s not expensive,” McMurry said. “If it doesn’t work, you’re not out a lot of money.”
The mayor said there are endless ways the community could keep the trolley busy, including ressurrecting the historic home tour or offering ghost and history tours.
“I think it is something this community should at least seriously take a look at,” he said.
McMurry said he wants the trolley to be a free service. Councilwoman Tammy McBurney said if it were free, she would be worried about people taking advantage of it.
McMurry said if they charged, the driver would have to be bonded and have change on hand. He did not want it to be like a bus system, he said.
Garrett said Radcliff does not charge for its trolley.
Councilman Robb Adams asked who would take ownership of the trolley and if there were any organizations, such as Carrollton/Carroll County Tourism or Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, willing to contribute to the budget. Garrett said the only one who had expressed interest was McMurry and the city of Carrollton, but she had not asked anyone else to take ownership of it.
Garrett said McMurry had suggested making the trolley part of the city’s fleet to pay for its insurance. To help pay for diesel and maintenance, she suggested asking businesses such as Kroger, Walmart, Vanity Fair Outlet Mall and the downtown merchants to pay a yearly fee in exchange for a trolley stop.
After hearing the presentation, Adams said he did not know how he would vote, but he is willing to hear more. It all comes down to money because it is council’s job to spend taxpayer money wisely, he said. He asked for more financial information. McMurry asked Garrett to request Radcliff’s budget last year for its trolley, and she agreed.
Adams also said he would not be in favor of the trolley being free and suggested a minimal charge of 50 cents or $1.
Councilmembers Ann Deatherage and Mike Gordon thanked the committee for all its hard work.
“I think this is a wonderful idea and your committee has worked hard on this,” Ann Deatherage said, and urged her fellow councilmembers to read over the information packet given to them and jot down ideas, questions and concerns.
Sidewalk bid awarded
Carrollton City Council awarded the sidewalk paving contract to contract low-bidder Charlie Mack Construction of Owenton, with a bid of $8,350. Before awarding the bid, Councilman Dwight Louden asked for a clarification in the minutes from the special council meeting on May 21. The meeting minutes showed council had already voted to award the bid to the lowest bidder, but Mayor Gene McMurry said council did not vote on that. He said he would have City Clerk/Treasurer Leatha Grimes fix the minutes.
There were three bids for the sidewalk project. Three areas in Carrollton will receive new sidewalks: Fourth Street across from the Carrollton Methodist Church, Sycamore Street between Sixth and Seventh streets and at the corner of Second Street and Highland Avenue in front of Lizzie B. Goods.
City approves CU rate increases
Carrollton city council approved the second reading at their meeting June 10 for Carrollton Utilities sewer and water rate increases. In-town rates for water and sewer will increase 2 percent, while out-of-town rates will increase 3 percent.
State to study space for parking stripes
The Kentucky Department of Transportation will conduct a study on whether there is enough space to stripe parking spaces on Highland Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets. City council approved a resolution to allow the study, which will be conducted at no cost to the city.
City continues campground ads
2 Rivers Campground will continue to be advertised by Good Sam RV Travel Guide. Council approved spending $1,995 in advertising with the national company, an increase of $300 from last year. “It’s paying off,” Mayor Gene McMurry said.
Osborne receives raise
Following executive session to discuss a personnel matter, city council approved a motion to give Carrollton Utilities Manager Bill Osborne a 3 percent raise. It was unanimously approved.
Dispatcher Chris Brock submitted his letter of resignation, effective July 1. He is retiring, and his last day is June 30.
June 15: Ohio River Sweep registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Point Park shelter. Volunteers will clean the riverbanks and downtown area. Carrollton Main Street manager Sam Burgess said prizes donated by North American Stainless and Dow Corning will be raffled off, and lunch will be provided.
June 24: JD Chaney with the Kentucky League of Cities governmental affairs office will visit Carrollton at 6 p.m. before the next regular council meeting. He will discuss the new legislation and how it will affect cities, Councilwoman Ann Deatherage said. Mayor Gene McMurry said he would also invite the other city commissions in Carroll County to the session.
July 5: First Friday, featuring music by Clayton Dermon and the Carrollton’s Hottest Dog contest.